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DEIB practitioner staff across Stanford deepen connections at annual conference

The second annual IDEAL DCP Conference welcomed more than 250 staff and recognized staff with the first-ever IDEAL Honor Roll.

As the academic year begins, the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in University Human Resources (UHR-DEIB) hosted the second annual conference for DEIB staff practitioners across the university. Featuring a hybrid program designed to engage both remote participants and in-person attendees, the  IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning Environment) DCP Conference took place on September 18, 2023. 

Working together to facilitate change

The theme of the no-cost conference was “Working Together to Facilitate Change” and brought together staff who actively engage in work and activities at Stanford that further diversity, equity and inclusion. "No change happens in isolation; the theme "Working Together to Facilitate Change" came from…coupling the idea of organizational change with the work of our DEIB Communities of Practice,” explained Mohammed Soriano-Bilal, Director for the UHR-DEIB Office. “Since most DEIB practitioners don't lead their entire organization, we highlighted our work as facilitators or orchestrators of change." Throughout the year, DEIB practitioner staff remain connected to one another via topical DCP (DEIB Community of Practice) groups, which began to form based on staff attendee feedback at the first conference in 2022. 

Bringing together DEIB practitioner staff

Attendees were welcomed to the conference by Ayodele Thomas, PhD, Associate Vice President for UHR-DEIB, whose remarks set the stage for the upcoming academic year. Dr. Thomas shared in her opening address, “Today’s conference is intentionally focused on us—those of us who feel called to engage in this work, whether or not it is part of our job, and much like the body has many parts, each with a different and unique function, we each play a unique and important role in moving our teams, our organizations, and our Stanford community forward.”

Following the welcome, nationally acclaimed poet and public speaker Yosimar Reyes performed spoken word pieces exploring themes of identity and power to begin the conference program. 

Mohammed Soriano-Bilal, together with Davina Drabkin, Learning and Development Manager for UHR-DEIB, engaged attendees in an activity to collectively imagine how to improve outcomes of inclusivity and equity for staff at Stanford. Provost Persis Drell and Senior DEIB leaders also addressed conference participants. Dr. Shirley Everett, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential and Dining Enterprises and Senior Adviser to the Provost for Equity and Inclusion, and Patrick Dunkley, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community and Special Advisor to the President, both shared about Stanford’s continuing commitment to advancing the goals of IDEAL. As part of his update, Patrick Dunkley shared a progress update on the upcoming release of the IDEAL Strategic Plan.

“After the IDEAL DCP Conference, I sensed less of a siloed isolation and felt more like I belonged at Stanford University as a whole." —Mani A. Farhadi, Facilities Senior Planner, School of Medicine

Conference attendees engaged in an interactive workshop focused on how to be effective in conflicts related to equity and inclusion, which was led by Bree Jenkins and Francesca LeBaron, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business lecturers who teach a course on conflict navigation. Dr. Thomas facilitated a panel of DEIB practitioner staff representing several different areas of Stanford, including Anika Green, Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Director for the DARE Doctoral Fellowship program, Lourdes Andrade, Executive Director for Faculty Engagement and Early Career Development Programs in the Office of Faculty Development, Diversity and Engagement, and Shaguna Wilkes, Talent and Inclusion HR Business Partner for the School of Engineering HR team. Panelists shared insights about their experiences with DEIB at Stanford and shared their learnings with fellow DEIB practitioners. 

“I think it’s important for conference attendees to experience the panel, as it offered a diverse perspective of DEIB work with the various Stanford populations, students, faculty, and staff,” said panelist Shaguna Wilkes. “It’s valuable for conference attendees to know that the university is focused on efforts across all dimensions of the campus, including making the campus more accessible, working on inclusive flexible work options, and evolving efforts to advance diversity and inclusion for all campus groups.”

A critical component of the conference is creating opportunities for DEIB practitioner staff to network and make connections across the institution. “The conference allowed us dedicated time for mingling and forming connections with peers and colleagues across different departments,” shared Kristina Tolentino, Administrative Associate, Division of Pediatric General Surgery in the School of Medicine. “This not only enhanced my networking abilities but also drove our organization closer to its DEIB goals.”

Cultivating inclusion at Stanford

Along with the opportunity to connect with fellow staff, conference attendees shared about how the annual conference supported their sense of belonging at the university. Amber R. Moore, PhD, Assistant Director of Research Development and Belonging, Grant Writing Academy in the School of Medicine, said, “This conference reminded me that there are hundreds of us across Stanford who are invested in the university’s transformation; I think the conference is an important counter to decentralization and feeling isolated, undervalued, and powerless as staff.” 

"It was a very fulfilling gathering, especially being a staff member—I had the opportunity to attend both online and in person, both of which felt inclusive,” said Mani A. Farhadi, Facilities Senior Planner in the School of Medicine. “After the IDEAL DCP Conference, I sensed less of a siloed isolation and felt more like I belonged at Stanford University as a whole." 

Unveiling the IDEAL Honor Roll

As the conference drew to a close, Dr. Thomas led the celebration of the university’s first IDEAL Honor Roll for staff, which recognizes Stanford staff who have demonstrated a significant commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning Environment through leadership, practices, processes, activities, peer support, and/or initiatives. “Many staff who are deserving of recognition for their efforts in support of equity and inclusion have never received formal appreciation,” Dr. Thomas said. “We want to create a space to celebrate the work being done to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion across the university and let staff know that their efforts have made an impact.” Honorees were nominated over the summer by colleagues for what will be an annual recognition for staff. More than 150 staff were recognized as part of the inaugural honor roll, representing 21 different schools and units university-wide. Honorees were given certificates of recognition, as well as virtual backgrounds and personalized digital designs to share about this achievement with their professional and personal networks.

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